System Restore

System Restore is a great tool to fix sudden problems.  Basically it rolls your system settings back to a point in the past before your problem started.  You can run it after starting up normally, but it has a much higher chance of success if you run it from what is called “Safe Mode.”  Here are step by step detailed instructions on how to get into Safe Mode and run System Restore.

When you boot up your computer, you will usually see the manufacturer’s graphic come up first (for example, Dell or HP).  Then you will see the Windows screen come up with the bars rolling across the bottom of the screen.  Sometimes you will not see your manufacturer’s screen at all, you will go straight to Windows.  The trick is to hit the F8 key on the upper row of the keyboard (usually above the 9 or 0 key) just BEFORE the Windows screen comes up.   If you see the Windows screen come up with the rolling bars, you missed it.  Restart and try again.  You have succeeded when you see the “Advanced Options Menu.”  Use your Up Arrow key to select the second from the top option, “Safe Mode with Networking,” and pressEnter.  Then you will click on your user name (not “Administrator”).  If you are running Windows XP,  click “No” to go straight to System Restore.  If you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7, click on Start à All Programs à Accessories à System Tools à System Restore.

System Restore is very simple to use.  In Windows XP, the option “Restore my computer to an earlier time” should already be selected.  Press “Next” and you will see a calendar with bold dates.  The bold dates have restore points.  The non-bold dates do not.  Select a restore point roughly one week before the problem began, to a maximum of roughly 2 months ago.  Then press “Next” twice and sit back while the computer carries out the restore and restarts.  In Windows Vista or Windows 7, select “Choose a different restore point” and select one at least a couple days before your problem started.

WARNING: you will need to reinstall any programs you have installed since that point and any changes made to the computer (for example, changing the background picture) will also need to be made again.  However, your data, such as emails, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc, will not be damaged or changed at all.

When your computer restarts, you will see a window announcing whether System Restore succeeded or failed.  It does fail on occasion, so do not be too surprised.  It succeeds about 75% of the time from Safe Mode, which is why we go into it.  If it failed, you could try going into Safe Mode again and picking a different restore point.  If it fails twice, forget about using System Restore to fix your problem.  If it succeeded, see if your problem is fixed!

System Restore actually restores an old copy of your computer’s “registry,” which is a huge list of tens of thousands of computer settings.  It does not affect your data files, Word documents, emails, etc, in any way.  If you have any questions, call Scott from ARX Computers at (847) 962-4661, or email toscott@arxcomputers.com .  Good luck!